SEPTEMBER 4, 2019
Grand Parkway to remain in TxDot’s 2020 UTP
The morning of August 29th Representative Phil Stephenson (R -HD85) attended the Texas Department of Transportation’s final public hearing addressing the 2020 Unified Transportation Program, the department’s ten year plan. Stephenson had addressed a previous hearing earlier in August to urge TxDot not to remove funding for the Grand Parkway Project from the UTP.
The Grand Parkway Project, a segment of which will be an extension of HWY 99 south of I69 (Crabb River Road) to HWY 288, has been a component of the TxDot’s UTP since 2009. Fears have lingered this could change moving forward.
To a room filled to capacity and overflowing into the waiting area, Representative Stephenson firmly addressed the commissioners.
“Texas is the greatest economic engine in the Union. This project is a must if the southern region of the Greater Houston area is to accommodate its growth,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson turned his testimony to public safety issues.
“I have lived in Wharton County for a long time, and I have seen the consequences of folks trying to escape a natural disaster who don’t have adequate evacuation routes,”
Nearly a hundred were on hand to testify so the representative cut his testimony short.
“You promised it, let’s finish it!” Stephenson said.
Recognizing the imperative nature of the issue, TxDot commissioners eventually cut further testimony and announced they were leaving the Grand Parkway Project in the 2020 UTP.
The Grand Parkway Contract resulted from a series of negotiations between Houston-Galveston Area Council, TxDot, Houston, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Chambers, Montgomery, and Liberty Counties. The contract establishes both a minimum and ultimate project scope, limits toll rates, as well as dedicates their collection exclusively to the project.
Its completion will provide both the Port of Houston and the Port of Freeport a direct route to both I69 and I10. Interested parties had threatened a lawsuit if the project was dropped, as removal of the Grand Parkway from the UTP without the consent of all parties would be a violation of the agreement.
Also, present and testifying were Representatives’ Rick Miller, Ed Thompson, and Mayes Middleton.
“I want to thank all the elected officials, economic development councils and concerned citizens for the work they have done to keep this project alive and going forward. We need to move on this ASAP. In a few years it could cost double what it’s going to cost now.” Stephenson commented after the hearing concluded.
The Fort Bend portion of the Grand Parkway project falls entirely within House District 85, Stephenson’s district.